•As support base from senators-elect hits 67 •Akpabio’s kinsmen drum support for ex-Abia gov
From Fred Itua, Abuja
Former Deputy Majority Leader of the Senate and senator-elect for Bauchi Central, Abdul Ahmed Ningi, yesterday, said no fewer than 67 of his colleagues have thrown their weight behind the aspiration of Orji Uzor Kalu and Abdulaziz Yari to emerge as presiding officers of the Senate
He said key contenders for the senate presidency like Sani Musa, Osita Izunaso, Orji Uzor Kalu and Yari are together and that discussions were ongoing among them. Ningi who is a member of the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), however, warned against the imposition of candidates by external influences even as he tackled those who accuse Yari of trying to use money to get the position.
He said: “Our latest count was 67, as of yesterday (Tuesday) night and more are still coming. Those who are talking about money politics should remember how they won their party primaries about six months ago from top to bottom, using money. When Senator Ndume made that statement, I actually was taken aback because he is experienced to know that there is no politics that money is not involved, but it is not the most critical. In this campaign, it is not about money, especially for our candidate. Sen Sani Musa, Senator Izunaso, Senator Orji Uzor Kalu and Yari are together and discussions are still ongoing. We know our strategy, but we are not going to disclose that.”
Continuing, he said: “I don’t belong to the APC, but I thought the APC would have learned a lot from the mistakes of the PDP with regards to imposing leaders on the National Assembly. They should allow for the independence of the legislature.”
On his part, senator-elect for Bauchi North, Dr. Samaila Kaila, said Yari was the best man for the job. In a message to the forum, Yari urged the senators-elect to discard any political, religious or geographical consideration and vote for him.
He said he was highly experienced having served as former Member of the House of Representatives, former Governor of Zamfara State and former Chairman of the Nigerian Governor’s Forum..
Meanwhile, parliamentary watchdog, Coalition for Parliamentary Democracy (CPD), has warned the All Progressives Congress (APC) against insisting on micro-zoning the Senate Presidency to Godswill Akpabio, saying the party might inadvertently be playing into the hands of the opposition. The group called on Akpabio to show that he has the support of his colleagues or quit the race.
In a statement by its National Coordinator, Dr. Menike Johnson, the group said zoning and external endorsements “are undemocratic and only promotes mediocrity, incompetence and breeds a corrupt and rubber stamp parliamentary leadership that cannot serve the interests of Nigerians.”
It commended senators-elect for their support for Abdul’aziz Yari.
Akpabio’s kinsmen back ex-Abia gov
The Coalition for Better Nigeria Under Bola Ahmed Tinubu, Akwa Ibom Chapter has backed the Chief Whip of the Senate and former governor of Abia State,Dr. Orji Uzor Kalu for the office of Senate president
In a letter addressed to the three senators from Akwa Ibom State including Senator Godswill Akpabio, who is also a contender for the presidency of the Senate, the group called on President Bola Tinubu and senators-elect to consider Kalu.
According to the letter issued, yesterday and signed by Solomon Akpan, the group cited stability, unity, experience, capacity and national peace as reasons to Senator Kalu
The letter read: “We write to congratulate you on your election as Senators representing the three districts of Akwa Ibom. We deem it as well deserve and a call for duty. We count on you to help Mr. President to serve Nigerians well and bring about the unity of the country.
“From Uyo, Akwa Ibom State capital, we extend our heartfelt congratulations to all Senators elect and wish them the best legislative experience. As the National Assembly will be inaugurated on 13th June 2023, our Coalition and indeed the masses of Akwa Ibom State solicit your support to elect Senator Orji Uzor Kalu, former governor of Abia State elected under the platform of APC who hails from South East as president of the Senate. We consider this call as a patriotic duty which we owe to stabilize Nigeria and set the tone for the healing, restoration of peace and stability in the South East.
“Orji Uzor Kalu is a seasoned politician, well experienced and exposed to the workings of the Senate of the Federal Republic. He has been an uncompromising pillar of support to President Tinubu and the APC as a party. South East over the years has remained a stronghold of opposition until the intervention of His Excellency, Senator Kalu and other stakeholders in the zone and today, APC can boast of more vote than ever and six Senators from the zone in the about to be formed Senate.
“We consider His Excellency, Senator Orji Uzor Kalu as the national consensus that every stakeholder must embrace because of the long-term benefits Nigeria will get especially in working with the new government to resolve the Biafra agitation and question of exclusion which the South East zone has complained of in the last administration.
“Most respectfully, let Senators quote for the unity, oneness and progress of Nigeria.
We thank and congratulate you once again,” the group said.